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The Challenge of the Times

Challenge/Times: Lecture V: Specters of the Old Testament in the Nationalism of the Present

Schmidt Number: S-3608

On-line since: 15th November, 2011

V.

SPECTERS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN
THE NATIONALISM OF THE PRESENT

December 7, 1918

It is often difficult for a person to find his bearings within the course of world events, especially when they are considered from a higher point of view. People are so very loath to view the truth without prejudice, which often resolves certain conflicts of life only after long periods of time. They would like only too well to be guided by the reins of the cosmic powers, even though they do not admit this to themselves. It becomes especially difficult for a person to find his bearings in an unprejudiced way when he is compelled in any single incarnation to live in such a catastrophic time as the present. He likes then to ask why the gods permit such things. He does not like to ask about the necessities of life. He always has in the background a longing to have everything as comfortable as possible.

In such a time as ours, man must behold all sorts of things that are in course of preparation from chaos. Chaos is necessary for the total course of events, and he must often take up his position in the midst of the chaotic, as well as in what has been harmonized. Especially is our fifth post-Atlantean epoch such a time as causes man to pass through much that is chaotic. But this is connected with the entire characteristic, the whole nature, of this epoch. We are living at a time in which man must pass through those impelling forces in the course of evolution that set him upon his own feet and permeate him with individual consciousness. We are living in the epoch of the consciousness soul.

Now, after all that we have considered, in connection with which we have brought together a great variety of things that may be suited to make our age understandable to us, we must ask ourselves what is the most profound characteristic of the evolution of the consciousness soul in our epoch. The profoundest characteristic of this epoch is that man must become acquainted in the most profound and the most intense way with all those forces that oppose the harmonizing of humanity as a whole. For this reason a conscious knowledge of those ahrimanic and luciferic powers working against man must gradually spread. If he should not pass through these evolutionary impulses in which the luciferic and ahrimanic forces are participating, he would not arrive at the complete use of his consciousness, and thus at the development of his consciousness soul.

This integration of the consciousness soul into human nature has t6 be recognized as a strongly antisocial impulse. Thus we have in our epoch the peculiar fact that the manifestation of social ideals appears as a reaction against what is striving to emerge out of the innermost nature of man, a reaction against the evolution of individual consciousness. What I mean to say is that the reason we have such an outcry about the need of socializing is that the innermost nature of man, precisely in our age, is most violently opposed to this socializing. For this reason it is necessary that we should obtain a view of everything in the cosmos, in the universe, that sustains a certain relationship to man, in order that we may become aware of the relationship existing between the antisocial impulses streaming today out of the depths of human souls and the clamor for social harmonizing, working like a reaction to what streams forth from the inner nature of the human soul. It is simply necessary that we should come to see clearly that man represents in his life a state of balance between conflicting powers. Every conception characterized by the idea of mere duality — a good and an evil principle — will always fail to illuminate life. Life can be illuminated only when we represent it from the point of view of a trinity, in which one element represents a state of balance and the two others represent the opposite poles, between which the state of balance tends to move continually like a pendulum. This is the reason for the Trinity we undertake to represent in our Group [Note 1] ; the Representative of Man balancing Ahriman and Lucifer, which is to constitute the middle point of this building.

This consciousness of a state of balance for which one strives, but that is always in danger of swinging toward the one or the other side, must become the essential element in the world conception of this fifth post-Atlantean epoch. As man passes through the stage of the consciousness soul, he develops toward the spirit self. This epoch of the evolution of the consciousness soul will continue for a long time. But within reality things do not proceed in such a way that one always follows the other in a beautiful scheme. On the contrary, one is telescoped in a way into the other. While we are developing in ever stronger measure the consciousness soul, there is always waiting in the background the spirit self that will then develop during the sixth post-Atlantean epoch just as strongly as the consciousness soul during this fifth epoch. Just as strongly as the consciousness soul works antisocially in its development, will the spirit self work socially. Thus we may say that, during this epoch, man develops from the innermost impelling forces of his soul what is antisocial, but behind this something spiritually social exerts its influence. This spiritually social element that is exerting its influence in the background will appear in its essential nature when the light of the spirit self shall dawn in the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. It is not surprising therefore, that in this fifth post-Atlantean epoch what can enter livingly and in a well-ordered way into humanity only during the sixth epoch appears in all sorts of abstruse, extreme forms.

Man is exposed during the fifth post-Atlantean epoch to the preliminary disturbing movements of what is to come during the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. Everything will depend upon the acquisition of an understanding of what we must pass through during this fifth post-Atlantean epoch. The antisocial instincts will play a tremendous role, and they can be restrained and integrated into a true social life only in the way that I recently explained. To assist him, man shall employ the social science that is to be derived from a general spiritual science.

Behind all the many struggles, therefore, of the present time, and also of the immediate future, the social question will remain in the background because its time has not yet come. But we must repeat from all possible points of view the fact that this social formation that is demanded cannot attain to real life unless it enters into a union with two other things. In the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, this union will appear more or less spontaneously. During this fifth epoch, social life must be regulated through the fostering of spiritual science. Every effort to regulate social life outside the sphere of spiritual science will lead only to chaos and radicalism, bringing about unhappiness for humanity. As regards a social shaping of life, this fifth post-Atlantean epoch is dependent in preeminent degree upon the science of the spirit. Just consider what I referred to yesterday and also recently in a public lecture in Basel. Just consider that man has mastered a nature that is distributed over the whole animal kingdom. He is the conqueror of the animal nature; he bears the animal nature within him.

Naive Darwinism maintains that human morality is only the development of the social impulse among animals. The social impulses are inborn in the animal, and they become, just to the extent that they are social impulses in the animal, antisocial impulses in man. He can awaken again to a social life only when he grows above what has developed as an antisocial impulse in him out of the animal nature. This is the truth. Thus, if we wish to represent the human being schematically from this point of view, we may say that man overcomes and develops beyond animality. What is social in the animal becomes antisocial in man. But he grows into spirituality and within the spiritual he may again achieve the social for himself. At a higher stage than the one that man has reached in the epoch of the consciousness soul, where he has grown out of animality, he will gain the social element. This shines amid the chaos of this middle stage where he now is.

This must be supplemented by two other facts. When the socializing process becomes manifest as an elemental impulse as a demand within humanity, this socializing alone must always bring a curse. The socializing process can become a blessing only if it is linked with two other things that must develop during the entire course of our postAtlantean age, up to the seventh post-Atlantean epoch. This may occur only when it is linked with what may be called the free life of thought and an insight into the spiritual nature of the world lying behind the sensible nature. Socializing without a science of the spirit and without freedom of thought is an impossibility. This is simply an objective truth. But man must awaken to freedom of thought; he must make himself ripe for freedom of thought precisely during our epoch of the consciousness soul.

Why must he awake to freedom of thought?

During the course of human evolution, man has come in a certain respect to a decisive point in this fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Up to this fifth epoch he possessed the possibility of having the prenatal time continue its influence into the postnatal life. Let us grasp this quite clearly. Up to our epoch man has borne forces within him that are not acquired by him during the course of life but were possessed by him when, as the expression goes, he first beheld the light of the world, when he was born. These were imprinted upon him during the embryonic time. These forces that were impressed upon man during the embryonic time and that then continue to work throughout life, were possessed by man up to the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. Only now do we face a great crisis in the evolution of humanity through the fact that these forces can no longer be determinative; they can no longer work in such an elemental manner as hitherto. In other words, during this fifth postAtlantean epoch man will be in much greater measure exposed to the impressions of life, because forces opposing the impressions of life, which were acquired in the embryonic period before birth, are losing their sustaining power. This fact is something of enormous importance.

Only in one respect was life even prior to this time such that man could acquire something between birth and death, something that was not imprinted upon him during the embryonic time. But this was possible only because of the following facts. We explained yesterday the peculiar phenomena of sleep in relation to social life. When man is asleep, his ego and astral body are outside the physical and the etheric body. There is a different relationship between the ego and the astral body, on the one hand, and the physical and etheric bodies on the other hand during sleep from that existing in the waking state. While man is asleep, he stands in a different relationship to his physical and etheric bodies. Now, there is a certain resemblance between our sleep and our embryonic period — a resemblance, not an identity. In a certain sense, our life during the period from sleeping to waking is similar to the life that we live from conception — or actually three weeks thereafter — until birth — again similar, not identical. While we rest as an infant in the body of our mother, our life is similar to what we experience later during sleep, except that during sleep we breathe the outer air. For this reason I have to say only “similar” but not “identical.” We do not breathe the outer air when we rest in the body of the mother. We are stimulated to breathe the outer air when we are born.

Thus, in this way life during sleep is different from the embryonic life. Now hold firmly to the fact that, while the human being is sleeping, his life is in many respects similar to that of the embryonic state except that something is at work that can occur only between birth and death and not in the embryonic life. Breathing works here. The fact that man breathes the outer air causes his organism to be influenced in a certain way. But everything that influences our organism affects the totality of our life-expressions, even our psychic expression. Because we breathe, we understand the world otherwise than if we did not breathe.

Now, there was a cultural element in the evolution of humanity. We touch upon a significant mystery of human evolution when we undertake to explain this. This was the Old Testament cultural element, which was permeated in an especially profound way for its initiates by the fact that man is different, by reason of the breathing between birth and death, from the embryonic life, which is otherwise like the life of sleep. It was upon this inner knowledge of the nature of breathing that the relationship between the old Jewish initiates, the Hebrew initiates of the Old Testament, and their Jehovah God was based. The Jehovah God manifested himself, as we need only learn from the Bible, to his people. Which was the people of Jehovah? It was the people who had a peculiar relationship to this truth of breathing that I have just explained. This is the reason why precisely this people received the revelation that man became man when the breath of life was given to him.

We acquire a special understanding when this is developed on the basis of the nature of human breathing. We acquire an understanding of the life of abstract thinking, which was called in the Old Testament the life of law, an understanding of the reception of abstract thoughts. Strange as this may seem at present to materialistic thought, it is nevertheless true that the human power of creating abstractions is determined essentially by the breathing process. The fact that man can abstract, that he can conceive abstract thoughts, just as laws are abstract thoughts, is connected with his breathing process and even physiologically with his breathing process. The instrument of abstract thinking is, of course, the brain. This brain is involved in a continual rhythm synchronized with the breathing rhythm. I have already spoken here repeatedly in regard to this relationship of the brain rhythm with the breathing rhythm. I have explained to you how the brain is floating in the cerebral fluid, and hOW this fluid, when the air is breathed out, flows down through the spinal column and empties below into the abdominal cavity; how the fluid is pressed upward again when the air is breathed in so that a continual vibration occurs: with exhalation, a sinking of the cerebral fluid; with inhalation, an ascent of the cerebral fluid and the immersion of the brain in the cerebral fluid. The capacity of the human being to form abstractions is connected even physiologically with this rhythm of the breathing process.

A people who based things in special measure upon the breathing process was likewise the people of the abstraction process. For this reason the initiates could impart a special revelation to their people, as they perceived things in their Jehovah manner, because this revelation was completely adapted to the process of abstract thinking. This is the secret of the Old Testament revelation. Man received a wisdom that was adapted to the abstracting capacity, the capacity of abstract thinking. Jehovah wisdom is adapted to abstract thinking.

As regards this Jehovah wisdom, man is asleep in the ordinary state of consciousness. The Jehovah initiates simply received in connection with their initiation what man experiences through his breath from falling asleep until waking. Because of this fact, persons who love half-truths have often designated Jehovah as the divinity who regulates sleep. This is true also. He imparted to man that element of wisdom that he would experience if he should become as clairvoyant as the initiates became, and should experience consciously the life between falling asleep and waking. Now, this was not experienced by the ordinary consciousness in the Old Testament times, but was given to man as a revelation, so that he thus received as revelation in this Jehovah wisdom that through which they had to sleep. It was necessary to sleep through this, since otherwise the life process could not continue.

This is the essential element of the Old Testament culture. The night wisdom was revealed as Jehovah wisdom. To a certain extent — but I beg you to note that I say to a certain extent — this possibility for man was exhausted during the period when the Mystery of Golgotha drew near because this wisdom, which is in a sense the wisdom of sleep and breathing, is one-seventh of all the wisdom that man must develop in the course of his evolution. It is the wisdom of a single one of the Elohim, that is, Jehovah. The other six-sevenths could and can come to humanity only as the Christ impulse flows into mankind. We may thus say that, as Jehovah revealed himself, he revealed the wisdom of night and breathing in anticipation. The six other Elohim, constituting in their totality together with the seventh Elohim the Christ impulse, reveal all other wisdom, which comes to man between birth and death otherwise than through breathing.

Within the life of Old Testament culture man would have been entirely antisocial if Jehovah had not revealed the social element to his people in that abstract law that regulated and harmonized their life.

Now, Jehovah was able to gain complete control for himself by thrusting back the other Elohim, as I have explained to you, and dethroning them in a certain way. This caused other, lower spiritual entities to come in contact with human nature and to take possession of it. Man was exposed to these other entities, so that we have two conditions in the course of Old Testament evolution: first, the harmonizing Jehovah wisdom in what was given to the Jews as their Law, which included at the same time their social life; second, what opposed this social union, the lower entities coming close to human nature because the other Elohim were not yet given access in the time before the Mystery of Golgotha. These lower entities directed their powerful attacks in an antisocial sense against the Jehovah element.

It is a peculiar fact that, in the middle of the nineteenth century, in the fifth decade, Jehovah ceased in a certain sense to master the opposing spirits with his influence, so that they acquired special power. Not until the course of the nineteenth century was it really necessary for the first time that the Christ impulse, which had previously been only in a preliminary stage as I have often pointed out, should really be understood. Human culture could not progress further without this impulse and it was the social element particularly that stood face to face with this important crisis. It was necessary that the Christ impulse should be understood for the future. Without an understanding of this Christ impulse, no social demand takes the direction leading to any sort of wholesome objective.

The almost twenty centuries during which Christianity has previously been disseminated were only preparatory stages for the real understanding of the Christ impulse because the Christ impulse can be understood only in the spirit. Everything happens gradually. In our critical times, when we face a crisis in regard to just those things I have called to your attention, the situation is as follows. The instinct leading toward a mere Jehovah wisdom still extends into our age as a remnant, tending toward the wisdom that depended upon what was acquired during the embryonic life and is modified only by the unconscious breathing process. The Jehovah wisdom requires a revelation in order to enter our consciousness. This sufficed up to the time when the consciousness soul had not yet evolved to a certain degree. Now, since the consciousness soul has evolved to this degree, humanity cannot get along further with Jehovah wisdom that is adapted to the breathing, but it is invariably true that an effort is made to continue to get along with something that has become insufficient according to inner necessities. Since, for the life between birth and death, what is 'connected with the breathing remains unconscious, the Jewish culture was a folk culture, not an individualized culture of humanity. It was a folk culture in which everything is related to the descent from a common tribal father. Jewish revelation is, in its essential nature, a revelation adapted to the Jewish people, because it takes account of what is acquired during the embryonic life and is modified only through an unconscious element, the breathing process.

What is the result of this fact in our critical times? The result is that those who will not become adherents of the Christ wisdom that brings into the human being the other element, acquired during the life between birth and death apart from the breathing process, wish to continue in their relationship to the Jehovah wisdom and to have humanity established only on the basis of folk cultures. The present clamor in favor of an organization consisting of individuals from mere peoples is a retarded ahrimanic demand for the establishment of such a culture, in which all the peoples represent only folk cultures, that is, Old Testament cultures. The peoples in all parts of the world are to become like the Jewish Old Testament people. This is the demand of Woodrow Wilson.

We are here touching upon a most profound mystery, which will be unveiled in the greatest variety of forms. A social element that is antisocial as regards the whole of humanity and undertakes to base the social life upon individual peoples alone is striving to come to manifestation as an ahrimanic element. The cultural impulse of the Old Testament is to be maintained in an ahrimanic form.

Thus you see things are not so simple as people suppose in thinking that it is necessary only to think out one thing or another in order to propose ideals to men. We must be able to look into reality. We must be able to say what really governs and develops its powers amid these realities. Man is faced, in fact, with the prospect of not being able any longer to base his life upon the merely unconscious or of finding it necessary to base his life upon the conscious element within life between birth and death. The unconscious depends upon the breathing process and thus inevitably upon what is connected with the breathing process, upon the blood circulation, that is, upon the line of descent, upon connections by blood, upon heredity. The culture that must come into existence cannot base the social order upon mere blood connections because these blood connections yield only one-seventh of what must be established in the culture of humanity. The other six-sevenths must be added through the Christ impulse: In the fifth epoch, one; in the sixth epoch, the second; in the seventh epoch, the third. The rest stretch out into the following periods of time. For this reason there must gradually develop in humanity what is connected with the true Christ impulse, and what is related to the mere Jehovah impulse must be superseded.

Typically, far-reaching endeavors of the Jehovah impulse will take place, for the last time, in what the proletariat understands as international socialism. In essence, this is the last stirring of the Jehovah impulse. We face the strange situation that every people will become a Jehovah people, and every people will at the same time demand the right to spread its own Jehovah cult, its own socialism, throughout the world.

These will be the two contending forces between which a balance must be found. In all that comes to manifestation as objective necessity in the course of humanity's evolution there mingles the feeling, the sentiment, of human beings who take one relation or another to the various national groups, and who work disturbingly within the objectively inevitable course of evolution. Through the Jehovah wisdom one of the seven doors to the union of humanity has been opened. A second door will be opened when it shall come to be known that what man bears with him as the physical and the etheric nature becomes ill in the course of life. Naturally, I do not refer to an acute illness, but in our fifth epoch life is identical with a gradual process of becoming ill. This has been true since the fourth epoch; it is especially true in the fifth epoch. The life process is the same thing, only gradual in its stages, as an acute illness, except that this takes a more rapid course. If, therefore, an acute illness must be cured by a specific healing process, something must enter also into human life that brings healing.

In short, the natural life of human beings, from the fifth post-Atlantean epoch on will be a sort of continual, gradual becoming ill. All influences of education and of culture must be directed to the objective of making well. In a certain way, this is the first true activation of the Christ impulse: healing. This is the special mission of Christ in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch — to be the Healer, the One who heals. The other forms of the Christ impulse must remain in the background. For the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, the Christ impulse must work in the direction of seership. There the spirit self comes to development within which man cannot live without seership. In the seventh postAtlantean epoch a sort of prophetic nature will develop as the third element, since it must, indeed, pass prophetically over into an entirely new period. The other three members of the sixfold Christ Being will do their work in the following periods. Thus must the Christ impulse find its way into humanity, as the element that permeates mankind with social warmth in the course of the present and the two following cultural epochs, that is, as the healing process, the seer process and the prophetic process. This is the real living entrance of the Christ impulse. This will interpenetrate other things necessary for evolution that we have already mentioned. One door has been opened through the Jehovah wisdom, but this door became unusable in the middle of the nineteenth century. If mankind should pass through this door alone, the only result that can follow would be that all peoples would in a way develop Hebraic cultures, each in its own form. Other doors must be opened. Initiation wisdom, which will become known through a second, third, and fourth door, must be added to the wisdom that has become known through the Jehovah door. Only in this way can man grow into other connections than those that are regulated by the bonds of blood and breath.

This constitutes, in turn, the critical element of our age. It is a fact that human beings wish to preserve a regulation of the world order according to the bonds of blood, coming in an ahrimanic way out of ancient times, but that an inner necessity strives outward beyond these bonds of blood. In the future what controls the social life cannot proceed from anything having to do with kinship. On the contrary, only what the soul itself in its own free decision can experience as regulating the social order will be valid. An inner necessity will so guide men that everything that penetrates into the social order out of mere bonds of blood will be eliminated. All such things enter into manifestation at first tumultuously. In our age there must evolve spirit knowledge and freedom of thought, especially freedom of thought in the religious realm. The science of the spirit must develop for the reason that man must enter into relationship with man. But man is spirit. Man can enter into relationship with man only when the approach is from the spirit. The relationship into which men entered at earlier stages had its origin in the unconscious spirit vibrating in the blood, in accordance with Jehovah wisdom, which leads only to abstraction. That to which the men must next be led must be something grasped within the soul. The heathen peoples had their myths in pictorial form, created through atavism in ancient cultural forms. The Jewish people had its abstractions, not myths, but abstractions: the Law. This has continued its existence. This was the first elevation of the human being to the conceptual force and into the force of thought. But from humanity's present view of the matter, which is only the revival of the command, “Thou shalt make unto thyself no image,” man must revert to the capacity of the soul that can once more, and this time consciously, form images. It is only in images, in imaginations, that the social life also can be rightly established in the future. The social life could be regulated only as regards a single people in abstractions, and the regulation for a people in social relationships was that of the Old Testament. The next form of regulation of the social life will depend upon the capacity to exercise in a conscious way the same force that once existed atavistically, in unconscious or half-conscious form, in man's myth building capacity. Men would be completely filled with antisocial instincts if they should endeavor to continue disseminating mere abstract laws. They must come again by way of their world conception, to the pictorial. Out of this conscious myth creation there will arise also the possibility for the development of the social element in the intercourse of man with man.

You may look at such a sculptural form as that of our Group: the Representative of Man, Lucifer and Ahriman. There you confront for the first time what is working in the whole human being, because man is the state of balance between the luciferic and the ahrimanic. If you permeate yourself in actual life with the impulse to confront every person in such a way that you correctly see this trinity in him, then do you begin to understand him. This is an essential capacity, bearing within itself the impulse to evolve in this fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Thus we shall no longer pass by one another as one specter passes another, so that we form no picture of each other but merely define the other person with our abstract concepts. The truth is that we do nothing more at the present time We pass by each other as if we were specters. One specter forms the conception, “That is a nice fellow,” and the other, “That is not such a nice fellow” ... “That is a bad man” . . . “That is a good man,” — all sorts of such abstract concepts. In the intercourse of man with man we have nothing but a bundle of abstract concepts. This is the essential thing that has entered into humanity out of the Old Testament form of life: “Make unto thyself no image.” It must inevitably lead to an antisocial life if we should continue it further. What is flowing out from the innermost nature of man, striving toward realization, is that, when one individual confronts another, a picture shall stream forth in a certain way from the other person, a picture of that special form of balance manifested individually by everyone. But this requires, of course, the heightened interest that I have often described to you as the foundation of social life, which each person should take in the other person. At present we have not yet any intense interest in another person. It is for this reason that we criticize him, that we pass judgment upon him, that we form our judgments according to sympathies and antipathies and not according to the objective picture that leaps to meet us from the other.

This capacity to be mystically stimulated in a certain way as we confront another person will come to realization. It will enter as a special social impulse into human life. On the one hand, the consciousness soul is striving to come in an antisocial way to complete domination in this fifth post-Atlantean epoch. On the other hand, something else is striving outward from the nature of man, that is, a capacity to form pictures of the human beings with whom we live. It is here that the social impulses arise, the social instincts. The simple fact is that these things lie at a far greater depth than is ordinarily supposed when people talk about the social and the antisocial.

Now the question may arise in your minds as to how we shall gradually attain to the capacity of causing the picture of the other person to leap to meet us. It is in life that we must gain this capacity. Jehovah capacities are given to us at birth; we evolve them in the embryonic life. The culture of the future will not make things so comfortable for people. The capacities a person must manifest will have to be developed during the course of his life. Far more concrete and definite principles must enter into education than those that are now being brought into dominance in such an utterly confused manner in today's pedagogy. It is most important of all that the instinct shall be implanted in people to look back more frequently during this life, but in the right way. What people develop at present as memories of earlier experience is marked as yet for the most part by a selfish character. If a person looks back in a more unselfish way to what he has experienced in childhood, youth, etc. — according to the age he has reached — there emerges as if out of the gray depths of the spirit various persons who have had something to do with his life in all sorts of relationships.

Look back into your life and pay less attention to what interests you in your own respectable person and much more to those figures that have come into contact with you, educating you, befriending you, assisting you, perhaps also injuring you — often injuring you in a helpful way. One thing will then become evident to you and that is how little reason a person really has to ascribe to himself what he has become. Often something important in us is due to the fact that one person or another came into contact with us at a certain age, and — perhaps, without knowing it himself, or perhaps, being fully aware of the fact — drew our attention to something or other. In a comprehensive sense, a really unselfishly conducted survey of our lives is made up of all sorts of things that do not give us occasion to immerse ourselves selfishly in our own being, to brood over ourselves egotistically, but lead us to broaden our views to include those figures who came into contact with us. Let us immerse ourselves with real love in what has come into our life. We shall often discover that what evoked an antipathy in us at a certain period is no longer so disagreeable to us when a sufficient length of time has passed because we begin to see an inner connection. The fact that we had to be affected in an unpleasant way at a certain time by one person or another might have been useful to us. We often gain more from the harm that a person does to us than from the furtherance afforded us by another. It would be advantageous to a person if he more frequently exercised such a survey of his life, and should permeate his life with the convictions flowing from his self observation. “How little occasion I really have to occupy myself with myself! How immeasurably richer my life becomes when I look back to all those who have entered my life!” In this way we free ourselves from ourselves when we carry out such an unselfish survey. We then escape from that terrible evil of our times, to which so many fall victims, of brooding over ourselves. It is so extremely necessary that we should free ourselves from this brooding over ourselves. Anyone who has once felt the power of such self-observation as I have just described will find himself far too uninteresting to spend much time brooding over his own life. Unlimited illumination is cast over this life of ours when we see it irradiated with what enters into it from the gray depths of the spirit.

But this has such a germinating power over us that we really acquire the imaginative forces necessary to confront the contemporary human being in such a way that in him the thing is manifest that appears to us only after many years in our backward survey of those figures with whom we have lived together. We thus acquire such a capacity that pictures actually come to meet us from the individuals we confront.
The cultivation of the social life, which in earlier times had its source only in the bonds of blood, does not depend so much upon any sort of socialistic programs, but upon man's becoming a spiritual-social being. He will become such a being by awakening within himself, in the manner I have described, the deeper forces that can bring to birth within him the capacity for conceiving pictorially the other human being. Otherwise, we shall always remain antisocial beings, capable of approaching others only according to our sympathies and antipathies, incapable of approaching them according to the picture that may stream forth from each person if we only develop the picture-forming forces in our intercourse with them. Precisely in the social life of humanity must the principle come into existence, “Thou shalt make for thyself an image of thy fellow man.” Then, when we form a picture of our fellow man, we enrich our own soul life; then do we bestow a treasure upon our own inner soul life with each human acquaintanceship. Then we no longer so live that A lives there, B there, C there, but A, B and C live in D; A, B and D live in C; C, D and E live in A; etc. We gain the capacity to have other human beings live in us.

But this must be acquired; it is not born in us. If we should continue simply to cultivate those characteristics that are born in us, we should continue within the limits of a mere blood culture, not the culture to which could be ascribed in the true sense of the word human brotherhood. Only when we carry the other human being within us can we really speak of human brotherhood, which has appeared thus far only in an abstract word. When we form a picture of the other person, which is implanted as a treasure in our souls, then we carry within the realm of our soul life something from him just as in the case of a bodily brother we carry around something through the common blood. This elective affinity as the basis of social life must take the place in this concrete way of the mere blood affinity. This is something that really must evolve. It must depend upon the human will to determine how brotherhood shall be awakened among men.

Human beings have hitherto been separated. They ought to become socialized in brotherhood. In order that the manifoldness shall not be lost, the innermost element in man, thought, must be able to take form individually in every single person. With Jehovah the whole folk stood in a relationship. With Christ each individual person must stand in relationship. But the fact that brotherhood will thus awaken requires that there shall be a compensation in an entirely different field, that is, through freedom of thought.

 


Notes

Note 1. Three figures in heroic size carved in wood by Rudolf Steiner.




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